A Brief History of Huddersfield

 

Victoria Tower, Castle Hill - HuddersfieldThere is believed to have been a settlement in the Huddersfield area for over 4000 years. One of the earliest pieces of evidence of this is the hill fort at Castle Hill, just south of the town, which was occupied from around 2100 BC. The site today is recognised by the Victoria Tower, built in 1899 to mark the Queen’s Jubilee.

The town grew steadily over the years and the local people found that they could supplement their income with the production of cloth from wool, of which there was no shortage. The industry was based in people’s home for hundreds of years, or in small mills next to upland streams. During the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries, Huddersfield built on its first class reputation for textiles, and increasingly moved to larger mills. Alongside the growth of the textile industry, chemical and engineering industries also developed, providing the machinery and dyes needed for the cloths. This industrial boom through the second half of the 19th century, left a rich inheritance of fine Victorian buildings, the most famous stunning perhaps being the railway station.

There was a down side to the Industrial Revolution in Huddersfield’s history however,  which put a great strain on the political and social spheres. It was at the centre of civil unrest and the Luddite campaign as many local weavers who were in danger of losing their livelihood due to the introduction of machines in factories began to destroy mills and machinery. When the army stationed a platoon in the area to help deal with the movement, the Luddites began to target nearby towns and villages. After a mill owner and prosecutor of Luddites was murdered in Huddersfield in 1812, the government stepped in and crushed the movement.

Huddersfield today has maintained its link to the textile industry, and while the work has declined in this field, many of the surviving companies still produce a large quantity of woollen products. The town is now also home to other manufacturing, creative and media industries for which it is becoming increasingly well known.